South Salem Cemetery

South Salem, Ohio

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The South Salem Cemetery is located on Church Street, about one mile south of OH-28, in South Salem, Ohio (Buckskin Township, Ross County). The coordinates are 39° 20' 12.91" N, 83° 18' 38.85" W.

The South Salem Cemetery is still active. There are many old gravestones, and most are in good condition. However, like any old cemetery, some of the older gravestones have been damaged. The grounds are very well maintained.

But beautiful, old gravestones are not the only interesting things in the South Salem Cemetery. It surprises many people, but the half sister of England's Queen Victoria is interred in this small town's cemetery. Mary Morter was the daughter of the Duke of Kent, and granddaughter of King George III. Her father, King Edward, had been married twice. Mary Morter was the daughter from his first marriage. She was in line to be Queen, but she fell in love with and married Blythe Jackway Morter, a commoner.

Since Mary Morter did not marry royalty, she was ostracized by her family. She and her husband, a stone mason, decided to move to America. BJ Morter moved to America first, and settled in South Salem. Once he was able to earn enough money and started to build a house, he sent for Mary and their six children. Much time passed, and he became worried. He left for England to find them. However, Mary and the children were on a boat sailing for America at the same time. Mary Morter arrived in New York with no one to meet her. She supported her family by sewing and tutoring until her husband arrived back in the country. They then traveled to South Salem in 1851 to start their new life.

When arriving in South Salem, the Morter family discovered their house was not finished yet. They didn't have any other choice, so they moved into the cold, damp, drafty house. Mary caught a cold, which kept getting worse. She was diagnosed with having tuberculosis, and died in 1852. Her husband carved her gravestone. There is one word carved on the bottom: "Think!"

A huge thank you to Mike H. for taking me to this cemetery! I truly appreciate all of the help he has given me.

Information about Mary Morter was found in the following articles, graciously sent to me by David H. Sweeney:

"The Princess of South Salem" by Stephen Kelley - Ohio Southland
"Royalty's Buried in S. Salem" by Bette Snyder - Chillicothe Gazette, July 23, 1965
"Half Sister of Queen Victoria Sleeps in Ross County Cemetery at South Salem" by B.E. Kelley - Ross County Historical Society Newsletter, July 1981

I really appreciate all the information that David shared with me!

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